Culture and Nature
9 days, 8 nights
This journey offers a unique experience; an opportunity to understand the Manu Biosphere Reserve and the different areas within it here in this part of the Amazon. We will be able to visit and appreciate the different ecological levels and life zones of the Biosphere and to observe flora and fauna in the wild, in their thriving natural states. By covering the zone designated for tourist use in Manu National Park, the cloud forest and the macaw collpas this journey will also enable us to share the culture of our friends in the Native Communities. We will stay in the lodges of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve which involves 10 community groups of different ethnicities including the Harakmbut, the Matsigenka and the Yines. This connection allows these groups to share with us some of their ancestral knowledge such as the use of medicinal plants, their traditional activities and their myths and legends. This journey thus provides a complete experience of what the Amazon is, culture and nature together.
1) Trekking in the jungle - we will enjoy the landscapes and biodiversity of the primary forest, exploring the creeks and icy rivers and seeing birds, monkeys, insects, mammals and giant trees.
2) Boat trip - we will observe the birdlife of the rivers and Cochas ( a Quechua word which means lakes) and hopefully many of the species of mammals which live here especially the giant otters and the king of the forest, the magnificent jaguar.
First Day: Cloud Forest
Early in the morning we will leave South-East Cusco to begin our rainforest experience. We will pass different places, appreciating the valley landscapes between the Andes Mountains and seeing the different local populations in their villages. As we pass them our guide will explain each village, their traditions and activities.
We will be ascending each time until we reach 3,800 meters (12,467.19 feet), the Puna area of the high Andes. The changes along this journey are impressive; we will see how the different ecosystems manage at these different ecological levels.
We will take the opportunity to stop and walk at specific places like the Chullpas de Nina Marka (Pre-Inkan tombs) and Paucartambo (a colonial village). One of the most interesting aspects of this part of the journey is the point of entrance to Manu National Park; Acjanako, where we can appreciate the dramatic change from the Andes to the Jungle. With a little bit of luck we will have a clear sky which will enable us to see the river basin of the Amazon from here. We will begin our descent passing through the different ecological levels of the Andean Desert, the Dwarf Forest and finally the impressive Cloud Forest where we will be able to see the huge diversity of plants and birds, a place considered by many people to be very special because of the unique characteristics of the flora and fauna. This exciting highway takes us approximately 8 to 10 hours to travel. We will spend the night in a comfortable lodge in this zone.
Second Day: Cloud Forest - Native Community of Shipetiari (Traditional Medicine Centre)
We will wake to the songs of the birds. A guide will take us to a path where we can find more of the local fauna and we can have some explanations about the different plants that we see and the processes that take place within this special forest. Later we will have a good breakfast, pack and board the bus to continue along the highway for about 4 hours. In this part we will see some of the people who live here in the tropical forest and the plantations of different tropical products that make up the local economy. About midday we will arrive at the port of Atalaya which has a small population who supplement their agricultural activities with tourism. At this point we will change transport and board a boat to take to the river until we reach the Native Community of Shipetiari. Here we will find our Matsigenska friends who will share with us some of the traditional knowledge of the forest. We will visit a bird and mammal claylick and with a little luck we will be able to see impressive animals such as the tapir. The guides will explain the functions and processes of animal behaviour here.
Third Day: Shipetiari - Casa Matsigenka
Today we continue our adventures, boarding our boat and travelling until we reach the point where the river Alto Madre de Dios meets the Manu river. Here we will find the entrance to Manu National Park. This river is very different to the Alto Madre de Dios, it is narrower and as we travel against the current we have some great opportunities to see the wildlife. We will be paying attention to everything that moves, covering the different levels of the forest and watching the beaches for the large quantity of birds especially seen in June, July and August. Many of these species are migratory and arrive only in order to nest on these beaches, we will take time to observe and photograph them. This is a long river journey that gives us great opportunities to encounter the wildlife here such as monkeys, caiman, capybaras and the impressively majestic but elusive jaguar.
We will arrive at Casa Matsigenka at dusk. This lodge is a special project supported by the Peruvian state to provide alternative development opportunities to the communities who have always lived inside the National Park. We will stay here for two nights.
Day Four: Casa Matsigenka – Salvador-Otorongo
Salvador is the name of an impressive lake, one of the largest in the area and inhabited by many endangered species like the giant otter (Pteronura Brasiliencis) and the black caiman (Melanosuchus Níger) and various other species of birds and mammals.
Salvador Lake is a horseshoe lake, created by a special natural process caused by the unpredictable nature of the changing river, its attraction is udeniable. We will spend 2 hours rowing around the lake in a catamaran looking for wildlife.
Another attraction in the area is the Otorongo Lake. We are not permitted to sail on this lake but we have arranged for 3 observation points, two peaks and one 15 metre high tower from which we will have a magnificent view of the lake and an opportunity to see more fauna. Both lakes have systems of trails which will be interpreted by our nature guides, the trails take between 2 and 4 hours, they are not long distances but they idea is to walk slowly, paying attention to the different sounds of the forest to maximise the opportunity to see the animals.
Day Five: Casa Matsigenka- Caminatas
On this day we will take time to walk the area, quietly searching for the different fauna and enjoying the forest in its totality. There are various paths that will maximise our chances of encountering wildlife, during this activity we will be explaining the processes of the Amazon forest.
The plan is to have one more day at Casa Matsigenka to share in the cultural and natural activities of the owners of the lodge, to understand more about their traditions, how they manage the forest, their world view and a day in their cultural and natural life.
We will take dinner and rest here.
Day Six: Casa Matsigenka – Albergue Blanco
After a pleasant breakfast we start off downriver. Again we will have many opportunities to continue finding fauna, we will go slowly to enjoy a little more of the National Park. After about 7 hours the boat will arrive at Blanco Lodge, strategically located in the area to give us access to different activities. When we arrive we can rest or we can enjoy a short walk. We will spend two nights in this lodge.
Day Seven: Albergue Blanco- Collpa de Guacamayos
Early in the morning, before first light, we will start our activities. Firstly, the Macaw Claylick or Collpa ( a Quechua word which means claylick) which we will reach with a boat journey of about 30 minutes and then a walk to the camouflaged hide, a 7 metre high structure in a dip near the river where we can enjoy breakfast accompanied by the colourful birds, parakeets, parrots and macaws. The guide will explain the reasons for their behaviour here. We recommend that you bring good quality cameras so as not to lose the opportunity to take some magnificent photos. Dont forget your binoculars as we will be able to watch the birds behaviour as they feed on the minerals of the claylick.
It is easy to spend the whole morning on this activity but it is subject to weather conditions and of course the behaviour of the birds (weather conditions dictate the activity at the Collpa). We will finish by returning to the lodge for lunch and a siesta.
In the afternoon we will visit a new lake where we can use the 30 metre high observation tower. Chances to see animals are high espcially to see the "Lobo de Rio" or giant river otter, black caiman, monkeys and diverse birdlife with birds from the very smallest to the most colourful and exotic.
After this spectaular afternoon we will return to the lodge for a rest and some food, over which you can enjoy the chance to ask the guide many of the questions you probably have!
Day Eight: Albergue Blanco - Puerto Maldonado
Following our itinerary we will start off on water and then land for the tropical city of Puerto Maldonado. This part of journey is a different experience, seeing the local populations and travelling for approximately 7 to 9 hours depending on the conditions of the river and road. We know it is a long journey but the advantage of leaving via Puerto Maldonado is that it guarantees us an easier exit in a commercial aeroplane with the possibility of flying directly to Lima. You will need to pay an additional cost for the journey Cusco to Lima as our service only includes passage from Puerto Maldonado back to Cusco.
Day Nine: Puerto Maldonado-Cusco (Option Lima)
On this day, after breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our journey to Cusco.
End of service